Jerusalem Biblical Zoo: Fun without Cruelty

Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, Israel

Why we decided to go to Jerusalem Biblical Zoo

We decided to spend our last day in Jerusalem at the Biblical Zoo (aka Tisch Family Zoological Gardens). Normally, I have very conflicting feelings about visiting zoos. I really want to see cute little monkeys and cute big elephants, but also don’t want to support the whole idea of caged animals.

This is especially true if the first definition of the zoo is Kaunas Zoo during the early post-Soviet times – if you ever get your hands on a space-time-machine, this should be the last place you want to visit.

But this time it was different. Jerusalem Biblical Zoo got the best recommendation in my eyes it could get. My friend has high standards about the way animals should be treated AND spent a couple of years working in Jerusalem Zoo AND didn’t get disappointed AND actually enjoyed her time there. So here you go – now our consciousness clear enough (obviously, still not 100%, if I wrote 3 paragraphs explaining myself to begin this post) and we pack our picnic equipment and take the bus to the Zoo.

Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, Israel

Bus trip to Jerusalem Biblical Zoo

The bus trip was almost as interesting as the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo itself. On what I would call a relatively small bus (in my Vilnius view) five baby pushchairs could fit, as well as numerous couples, older children and some odd adults. We squeezed and then squeezed a little more to accommodate three teenage girls (around 11-12, does this make them teens already?) with pushchairs with their baby siblings on their absolutely independent trip to the Zoo. Later in the zoo there was also a playground where we saw many very small children (like four year olds) taking care of even smaller children (like two year old). This surprises me and impresses me, and I want to bring some of this feeling home.

I looked for a place to sit safely with Mark, as the bus was jumping and making sharp turns, and I was afraid that I would fall with him. There were no free seats, so I coughed gently at some guys, who looked at me without any emotion, and looked away. I moved around and tried to make some eye contact without any success until some girl stood up to give me her place. Later speaking to friends I found out that here if you want/need something, you ask for it. Ah, an etiquette based on healthy psychological interactions, how interesting! I am more used to the passive aggressive glances we use in Lithuania.

Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, Israel

Exploring Jerusalem Biblical Zoo

At the entrance to the Zoo there is a plate with the schedule of activities – animal feedings, education, etc. – and those activities are happening every hour or even more often. We went to see elephant education, and it turned out to be education of you about elephant, and in Hebrew, and consisted of elephant lifting its foot followed by a man talking for five minutes… elephant lifting another foot – and then another talk. So we will need to polish our Hebrew til the next time we go there (at the moment we can already say “thank you” and “elephant”).

Zoo – as any other activity – with a 1-year-old has a certain typical speed and schedule. Everything is slow and a lot of sudden unplanned stops are happening. So the first picnic happened at once, and my beige trousers became richer in colour by soil, strawberry, hummus and grass. Serves me right, snob-who-wears-beige-to-the-zoo!

Jerusalem Biblical Zoo is spacious and not packed with animals, there is a lot of park in between, and also a little train going around. Our friends told us that you can spend there a lot of time, like three hours. We arrived at noon and were kicked out at six, when the zoo actually closed. And didn’t have enough time to see the wolves. And we don’t blame it on baby Mark entirely (only partly) – there is actually a lot to see and then even more just to sit/walk/enjoy/relax.

So, Mark’s favourites were (in this particular order)

1. Giant Goldfishes  (or rather the pond where they live)
2. Rubbish bin
3. Hippo sleeping in a pond at a great distance (I wouldn’t even have noticed the hippo, but Mark found the sight of its back in the muddy water mega exciting. They say children make you see the world from another angle.)
4. Red Panda (he spent 10 mins pointing at it and saying “meow meow” and then we got tired and carried him away, while he kept pointing).

There is also a mini zoo in the zoo, where you can pet the goats and mini goats. Zsolt and I had many discussions about getting a pet, and 10 years into our relationship we still can’t agree whether we want a cat (I do) or a dog (he does). So there are two options: 1. we wait and get Mark to decide 2. we get a mini goat.Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, Israel

On our walks we also saw

– beautiful giraffes
– very many very small monkeys
– bats hanging upside down wrapped in something which looked like a leather sock
– sleeping kangaroos
– sleeping otters
– sleeping cheetah

and others

Well, do come and see them yourself!

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